AUSTEN, Winifred Marie Louise

1876 - 1964

As Winifred Marie Louise Austin, was born at Ramsgate, Kent on 12 July 1876, only daughter of Josiah Austin, a Cornish naval surgeon, and his wife Fanny, née Mann. She amended the spelling of her surname from Austin to Austen from the time that she began to exhibit her work. In 1892 the family moved to Hornsey, London from where Austin attended the London County Council School of Arts and Crafts, studying under Cuthbert Edmund Swan (1870-1931), an animal painter. In 1899 she exhibited a picture of a lion at the Royal Academy and in all, exhibited more than seventy pictures at this venue, the last in 1961. She worked in both oils and watercolours but Austen is most highly regarded as an etcher. In all she made some two hundred etched plates, beginning in 1906 with a series entitled 'The White Heron' and had particular feeling for birds and small mammals, and the naturalist Sir Peter Scott said "she was certainly the best bird-etcher of this century". In 1902 elected to the Society of Women Artists followed in 1907 to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, and in 1933 to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and was also a fellow of the Royal Zoological Society from 1903. She also exhibited at the Abbey Gallery, Alpine Club Gallery, Beaux Art Gallery, Colnaghie & Co. Gallery, Fine Art Society, Grosvenor Gallery, Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, Leicester Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Royal Hibernian Academy (1932-1940), her exhibited works include 'The Pheasant Brood', 'Hares in Young Wheat', 'Blackcap and Ivy Berries' and 'Gathering of Finches' other works were shown at the Greatorex Gallery and Arthur Greatorex acted as her publisher. Her first commissioned work was in 1898, for E. Nesbit's 'Book of Dogs' and such was Austen's success that she required an agent when she employed Oliver O'Donnell Frick (1868/9–1923), an American from Maryland, and married him on 22 October 1917. After living in Ealing, Austen and her husband lived briefly in both Yeovil, Somerset and Dorking, Surrey, before moving to Suffolk in 1922, where Oliver Frick died from pneumonia the following year. Subsequently Austen lived at ‘Wayside’, Orford, Suffolk which she shared with her housekeeper a Mrs Field until the latter's death in 1959. A member of Ipswich Art Club 1924-1964 and a regular annual exhibitor including in 1927, two black & white etchings 'The Shellduck Family' and 'The Red Setter' and two watercolours 'Boon Companions' and 'Wild Duck', in 1932 three water-colours 'The Empty Dish' 'Guilleots' and 'Whoopers Taking Alarm', in 1937 watercolours 'Kingfisher', 'Honeymoon (Barn Owl)' and 'Duck Hawk', in 1941 three works 'Cormorants', 'Friends of our Choice' and 'Mary's Bantam's', in 1943 'The White Rabbit', 'Promenade', 'Alert Widgeon' and an etching 'Doormouse' and a drypoint 'Goggle of Geese', and in 1944 three works 'Lone Pinetail', 'Kingfisher' and 'Long-Tailed Fieldmouse'. Innumerable pets became subjects for her work and a printing press was kept in her kitchen. Although reclusive, Austen was involved with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Havergate Island Bird Sanctuary in Suffolk. Early in her life she took an interest in psychical research and was also an enthusiastic photographer. Winifred Austen died at 38 Southborough Road, Bickley, Kent, on 1 November 1964, she had no children. A large quanity of her etchings were sold at Bonham’s on 17 September 1992.

Works by This Artist